Babcock, Joe 1979–
Babcock, Joe 1979–
PERSONAL: Born July 1, 1979, in Minneapolis, MN.
ADDRESSES: Home—Minneapolis, MN. Agent—Michael Mancilla, Greystone Literary Agency, 1512 Allison St. NW, Washington, DC 20011.
CAREER: Writer. Works also as a waiter.
AWARDS, HONORS: Lambda Book Award, Lambda Literary Foundation, and Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Award, 2003, for The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers.
The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers (novel), Closet Case Books (St. Paul, MN), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Another novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Joe Babcock's novel The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers tells the coming-of-age story of sixteen-year-old Erick, a homosexual boy who narrates the story of his entrance into the world of drugs and drag queens. About his motivation to write this novel, Babcock noted on Closet CaseBooks.com: "In high school, I came out of the closet and began my new gay life in Minneapolis. That's when I began to write my own stories. From the beginning my goal was to write the novel that I had searched for when I was a teen, hoping that other gay teens could read and find solace in it, and, most importantly, realize that they are not alone."
While working as a waiter, Babcock plugged away at his debut novel. "It took me about three and a half years to write (and produce) the book," he told Alex Rowlson for Fab magazine. "It started out as an exercise. I wanted to write a kick-ass coming out scene, it just kept going. By the time I reached 50 pages I realized I had a novel on my hands." When Babcock failed to sell the manuscript immediately, he decided to publish it himself, charging the cost of printing 2,500 copies on his credit card. While this might not be the route to success for everyone, it was the path for Babcock; the novel won the Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Award and was offered a contract with Carroll & Graff. Jodie Rhodes, one of the contest judges was quoted at the Writer's Digest Web site as saying, "We know this kid, he comes alive for us, jumps off the page and captures our heart."
Several reviewers wondered if Babcock glorifies drug use in his novel. "Erick's tendency to whine and make excuses for himself grows tedious, as do the tremendously detailed drug scenes," wrote Nancy Garden in Lambda Book Report. On the other hand, some critics saw the novel as a cautionary tale, among them an HPPub.com contributor who wrote that "Babcock often offers up gruesome visions and nightmares associated with drug abuse and self-loathing, occasionally with frightening impact that would remind one of Stephen King." Entertainment Weekly reviewer Thom Geier cited the novel as among the "R-rated cautionary tales about teens trying to grow up too fast."
Reflecting on his writing methods, Babcock told Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest: "I revise every paragraph at least once, almost every sentence, just because I'll keep reading it over and over and over again. If it ever gets tedious or boring or anything loses my interest, I'll decide it's terrible, and I'll have to rewrite it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Entertainment Weekly, May 20, 2005, Thom Geier, review of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers, p. 80.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers, pp. 365-366.
Lambda Book Report, February-March, 2003, Nancy Garden, review of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers, p. 38.
ClosetCaseBooks.com, http://www.closetcasebooks.com/ (September 22, 2005), "Joe Babcock."
Fab Online, http://www.fabmagazine.com/ (September 22, 2005), Alex Rowlson, "First Kiss, First Crush, First Phat Pants: An Interview with Joe Babcock."
HPPub.com, http://www.hppub.com/ (September 22, 2005), review of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers.
White Crane Journal online, http://www.whitecranejournal.com/ (September 22, 2005), Steven LaVigne, review of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers.
Writer's Digest Online, http://www.writersdigest.com/ (September 22, 2005), Jane Friedman, "Self-Published Competition."